Social networks have opened doors for many artists and gave them an opportunity to be heard. However, some are more helpful than others. In the beginning, Facebook was helpful and released “artist” pages which allowed musicians to update their fans regularly through posts, comments, photos, audio, and everything in between. Then something happened… Like any major corporation, Facebook wanted to generate revenue. Aside from enterprise clients, FB saw the potential for revenue from local artists wanting to promote their pages.
For a fee, Facebook basically holds your “fans” hostage unless you pay up. Here’s how…
Whether you have 100 or 100,000 “likes” it took hard work to gain those fans. When a FB user essentially subscribes to your page, you would assume that the user is expecting to see regular updates from you on their feed. As the artist, you would assume that the new content you post will appear on all of your fans’ timelines. Wrong on both accounts.
FB provides analytics on all posts made. From my personal experience (and others I’ve heard) the average post is seen by less than 10% of your fans (for me, roughly 60 people per post).
Crazy right? So why does FB essentially hide your post from 90% of people that want to hear from you? An algorithm! (Social Network reference). According to FB, through data analytics, their platform can predict the type of stories you want to see. If you never visit the artist’s page, they assume you don’t really care about their posts and thus won’t show you any.
This pretty much creates a never ending cycle – if I don’t see your posts I won’t be interested in you – if I’m not interested in you, I won’t see your posts.
FB won’t release the exact details of how the data modeling works, but here is what I’ve been able to gather:
1. Users who frequently comment on your posts will most likely see your posts
2. Users who frequently “like” your posts will sporadically see your posts
Aside from “user engagement”, from my tests there seems to be a hierarchy in the actual content posted, as well.
1. Text-only posts are seen by the highest amount of your fans. Example “Let us know your favorite song?”
2. Photos (hosted by FB, not externally) seem to take 2nd place.
3. External Links (non-video/audio) are given a lower hierarchy. Seems the algorithm is designed as to not lose traffic to external sites.
4. Audio Links such as soundcloud (which open a FB widget) are almost at the bottom of the totem pole.
5. YouTube Video links have the lowest hierarchy, but not sure why. Whenever I post a YouTube video, it’s seen by about 5% of my fans.
As you can imagine, the above limits imposed by Facebook can be highly detrimental to an artist. Especially when content like videos and audio are seen by the least amount of fans. Some bloggers and artists have been forced to “litter” their timelines with nonsense in an attempt to gain more active users. Constantly posting text-only randomness (i.e. “What’s your favorite color!” “Like if you hate cancer!“) increase the chances of someone liking/commenting on the post, and thus moving them into the “active” bucket. The downside is, your posts become less relevant and even though a user is now “active” they will be less likely to read your posts, assuming it’s nonsense.
So how do you unlock the full potential of all your fans? Give money to Facebook! Yes – depending on how many fans you want to see your content, you can “boost” your post for the starting price of $5. Facebook basically charges you for utilizing a list YOU acquired. For me, it would cost $200 a month to promote 1 post per week, to all my fans. For a struggling artist, $2,400 a year is a lot.
Unfortunately, there aren’t that many ways around it. Facebook has the audience numbers so they can get away with this corporate thuggery. In closing, this is why promoting music on Facebook sucks.